Of the women in Ruskin's life, Connie Hilliard's importance is probably second only to that of Rose La Touche. Ruskin first met her at Wallington, the home of her aunt, Lady Trevelyan (see lot 62) on 11 August 1863, when she was eleven. She became one of Ruskin's favourite friends and toured France, Switzerland and Italy with Ruskin, her mother, Joan Severn and others. In one of the sketch books from the 1870 tour (Pierpont Morgan Library, U.S.A.) there are a number of sketches of her and other portraits of her by Ruskin are dated to 1870 and 1872. In August 1800 she married the Rev. W.H. Churchill, headmaster of St. David's School, Reigate. Her brother Laurence was Ruskin's secretary at Brantwood and Ruskin became god-father to one of Connie's sons. Ruskin was a frequent visitor to Cowley Rectory, south of Uxbridge where Connie's father was vicar. The present portrait was probably taken during his visit of 25-28 October 1875 when Ruskin complained in his diary of the constant gloom- 'Hellish blackness all over the poor little village church.'
We are grateful to Dr. James S. Dearden for his help in preparing this atalogue entry.